The Bitterroot Mountains become steadily larger and craggier as you head south from Florence, and they reach near-Alp status by Darby, with Trapper Peak the highest and perhaps craggiest of them all. The 10,157 foot peak is a spectacle when seen from U.S. 93 south of Darby, but despite its fearsome look it’s actually a fairly easy hike. The easiest way to the summit is from the Baker Lake Trailhead, which can be reached by most vehicles once the snow melts. Follow Baker Creek to Baker Lake on a good trail; near the outlet of the lake leave the trail and head left (south) up a steep gully to the ridge, then follow the ridge to the summit. For fit climbers it’s a half-day walk.
You climb to the Boulder Peak Lookout not for the view of Boulder Peak, but rather for the view of Trapper Peak, the highest point in the Bitterroot Mountains and which hulks across the valley. The lookout, actually, is only about halfway up the mountain, but don’t let that lead you to think this is an easy hike. The trail is 2.5 miles from its beginning on Forest Road 373 to the lookout, and climbs about 2000 vertical feet. The lookout is no longer used by the Forest Service, but it’s kept in decent shape in part from the help of volunteers. Expect shelter from storms and a cool perch; don’t plan on spending the night or finding water. You can sign the lookout register and use an outhouse. The lookout is perched on the edge of a precipitous cliff: from inside you enjoy the view, but from the trail just beyond the lookout you can appreciate how the structure seems precariously perched. If you head up to Boulder Peak, it sits at 9,800 feet – another 2,500 vertical feet from the lookout. It’s the fourth-highest peak in the Bitterroots.
The only brewery in Darby is also one of the smallest in the state. Bandit is new and operates in what looks like an old welding shop on the edge of town. Despite its size there are 10 brews on tap. We visited on a snowy Saturday afternoon and the line up was seasonal with mostly dark brews and only a handful of lighter ones. I'd skip the IPA and get the porter instead.